New Delhi: East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan feels leaders Churchill Brothers are still the favourites to win the I-League football title, but hoped stranger things to happen that may favour his team.
After 22 matches, East Bengal (42) are five points behind Churchill Brothers, who have 47 points.
"We have to believe we can still clinch it - otherwise what`s the point? Having said that, you need to remember that Churchill are in great form and there is no reason to think that they will drop points. But stranger things have happened in football. We have to make sure we win the four matches and hope Churchill drop points. Without hope and belief, the purpose of playing stays defeated," he said.
Asked if it would be frustrating to come close and not win the I-League, Morgan said, "I don`t lose sleep over not winning the I-League. We play in so many competitions throughout the season and there are bound to be spells where a team loses. I am more focused on the overall development of the club, and I as I see it we have improved leaps and bounds over the last three years."
East Bengal have one foot in the Round of 16 of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup, a feat which they last achieved in 2004.
"It will certainly be a great achievement to qualify from the Group Stage of the AFC Cup. But we haven`t sealed it as yet - we need one more point for that. I feel proud the manner my boys played - both at home and away. To overcome such a hectic schedule is not a joke. At the start of the season our target was to get through to the next round and I am glad we have almost achieved it," he said.
Asked how difficult it will be for East Bengal in the next stage of AFC, Morgan said, "The next round will be a tough one but the way my team has played so far, I strongly feel we can progress further. But I reiterate, we haven`t qualified for the next stage as yet."
Morgan, however, said East Bengal were the team to beat this season.
"We have won the Federation Cup twice and even the Calcutta Football League (CFL) and the IFA Shield. We have finished runners up twice in the I-League. I think we are on the right track and the credit goes to the boys," he said…
Morgan is satisfied with the manner the club has shaped up under him in the last three years.
"Personally, I take great satisfaction from the fact that the club has achieved considerable success over the past three years. I would not be able to compare it with the past as I have little knowledge. But yes, the boys have been exceptional and to see them and the club grow in front of my eyes was heartening.
"Yes, we have not won the I-League which is the most coveted crown but the fact that we have stood up to our reputation every inch was magnificent. In the League too we have been very consistent. In Cup Competitions we have been superb. I am a happy man," he said.